Kate and Walter A. Scott ’59 Scholar in Engineering
Ph.D. (chemical and environmental engineering), Yale University
B.S. (environmental engineering science), University of California, Berkeley
My Love of Teaching
I’ve always loved teaching and always thought I’d be an educator. In college, I decided to pursue graduate school for environmental engineering due to my love of the research field. Throughout my Ph.D., I continued to pursue opportunities in both teaching and research.
Here at Lafayette, I really enjoy teaching the first course in chemical engineering. It’s really satisfying to introduce students to the field and fundamentals, as well as explore different applications.
My Research Interests
Broadly, my research is focused on sustainability and engineering with applications in biomass products and solvents. In graduate school, the very first conference I attended focused on green solvents. I remember a compelling keynote address about the importance of solvents, how much we use them, and how much impact they could potentially have on a chemical process regarding waste and environmental consequences. In my research, I was focusing on some use of green solvents for applications in biofuel production. I really wanted to expand what people think about solvents in terms of their importance.
Solvents are an often overlooked portion of a chemical process, yet can comprise a huge amount of process waste. Furthermore, many solvents are toxic or hazardous. My work focuses on decreasing the impacts of solvents through both more efficient use and finding more benign alternatives. Some of my work explores how to make solvents more recyclable in order to decrease their impact in an overall process. Our group also investigates new classes of solvents that may be more easily recycled or used in novel applications. Currently we are applying green solvents to biomass applications including extractions and biopolymer production.
I really value mentoring students; Lafayette provides the right environment to have those close interactions at the undergraduate level. The most rewarding experiences are from the students I’ve done research with. Through the mentoring relationship, we grow and learn together and have accomplished really solid work. I hope that the students get a lot from these interactions as well, both in research expertise and professional development.
I also really appreciate that the students are so involved and engaged. I went to a really large undergraduate institution where it’s really easy to disappear and just be a number. That’s impossible at Lafayette. Hopefully, each student finds their own support here, and I hope to be part of that.
Personal Interests/Community Work
I have done biodiesel-related exhibits and outreach at the Nurture Nature Center in Easton and worked with the Landis Center to help bring elementary and middle school students to campus to learn about the environmental impacts associated with energy production.